Woods Stars in Possibly Last Monday Night Golf
And with that, the lights will go out on Monday Night Golf, at least for a while.
Eight days removed from his dominating British Open victory, Woods will be paired with John Daly against Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen in the third ``Battle at The Bridges'' on Monday night at the exclusive Bridges club north of San Diego where Mickelson is a member.
It's the seventh installment of made-for-TV golf exhibitions, which were started to get Woods on prime time.
``It's probably not going to continue in this concept,'' said tournament director Michael Stearns of IMG, the company that represents Woods. ``Tiger wants to take a little bit of a break.''
Stearns said there probably will be some sort of exhibition under the lights in the future, but added: ``We're not out looking for anything. We'll let it run it's course and start over again.''
Not only is this the final year of the contract with sponsor Lincoln Financial, but ratings have dropped since the format went away from head-to-head competition after Sergio Garcia beat Woods at Bighorn in 2000.
``He's been in every event since we started, he's newly married and he wants to take a break from a few of these things and focus back on his game, which is evident,'' Stearns said.
Woods wasn't available for comment before the final ``Battle at The Bridges,'' which is a best-ball match for 18 holes.
But after winning the British Open at St. Andrews, it's clear what he's focusing on. It was his second win in three majors this year, and the 10th of his career, leaving him eight behind Jack Nicklaus. He finished second in the U.S. Open.
So following up his second career British Open win with a silly season tournament might seem, well, just a little silly.
Organizers tried to get the Big Four for this year's exhibition, but Vijay Singh didn't want to play and Ernie Els pulled out. So they'll have three of the top five in the world rankings plus the ever-popular Daly -- and no real theme.
Except for maybe Woods himself.
Mickelson knows how focused Woods is right now.
``It looks like Tiger's game never really went anywhere, it is just that he came out awfully focused this year and has been playing very well and we will have our hands full with these two,'' Mickelson said.
In last year's Battle, Woods and Hank Kuehne beat Mickelson and Daly, 2 and 1.
``It looked like last year, John and I had a pretty good chance to win and we ended up giving it away and John turned me in as his partner and took Tiger,'' Mickelson joked. ``And I do not blame him. Tiger has won the Masters and the British Open now, but we had a good time last year.''
Said Daly: ``I mean, it is a privilege and an honor to play in this. It is a great golf course. I did not know I was going to get picked again and I feel very fortunate to play.''
ABC will broadcast the Battle live starting at 8 p.m. EDT, with ESPN2 picking up the first hour of the match.
The winners share $1 million and the losers split $400,000.
Mickelson lives just a few miles from the Bridges, where memberships start at $350,000. The course features dramatic terrain and takes its name from two bridges that span deep canyons.
Daly and Goosen had to fly in from Germany, where they played in the Players' Championship of Europe. Daly tied for third and Goosen missed the cut.
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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz
Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in
There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.
Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.
While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.
Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Bubba Watson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brian Harman
On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.
Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:
1. Tyrrell Hatton
2. Justin Rose
3. Tommy Fleetwood
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Thorbjorn Olesen
6. Ross Fisher
1. Jon Rahm
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Alex Noren
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win
Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.
Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.
The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.
The second is from Sunday night.
And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.
Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win
After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.
Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.
It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.
Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.
Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.